When you faced with a severe accidental injury or illness, you will need to eventually consider what you will be able to do after you recover. Rehabilitation takes time, and you may be unable to resume your prior level of dental proficiency. For many this means that clinical dentistry is out of the question. For others faced with addiction or burnout, that outcome is also predetermined.
In reviewing all your transition options, don’t overlook the opportunities in education that are open to those with a doctorate level of education. Many will prefer to teach at the collegiate level or return to their dental school to teach. Do not overlook those valued positions, but at the same time consider contributing at the local level. Continue to be relevant and be rewarded with your contribution to the education of our nation’s youth.
Most school districts have well-known policies regarding requirements for academic instructors. Your background as a dentist will fit in well with many potential positions at the secondary or middle school level. Each state’s requirements are different, but your experience and skill as a dentist will make the transition into education possible. You may be required to take some basic academic educational classes. In addition some districts do require a period of student-teaching. The exception is a need for a teaching certificate, which is a rare requirement for a doctoral applicant.
School districts are desperate for dedicated instructors/teachers. You have demonstrated you superior capability by just enduring dental school, college, and private practice. Your leadership experience is invaluable, and you may find yourself in school district administration after or during your teaching career. Many school districts will put you on the fast track to the classroom. Be ready for a challenging and rewarding ride.
It is likely you will be looked at as a candidate for instruction in the sciences first. Your knowledge of biology, chemistry, and general science is the foundation of dentistry. Don’t limit your opportunities, and be open to the many other fields at the secondary school level. Your hobbies may turn out to be in play, and you may find yourself as an automotive shop teacher or even teaching a foreign language.
Don’t feel obligated to jump in full-time, but this is an option for many. As a second career, you can expect a significant decrease in financial compensation. Look at the bright side of this transitional effort. You will be directly effecting the lives of many students. It is an awesome responsibility but very rewarding. You will regain a huge number of financial benefits in addition to having your summers off. Retirement, health, and vacation packages for most teachers are very generous.
Do not limit your investigation of teaching opportunities to public schools only. Private/charters schools have much more freedom in their hiring requirements, and you may find an immediate appointment possible. Also make sure you look at educational positions in area technical schools that may be supported by the school districts. Many dentists now teach dental assisting in these career focused programs.
Make no mistake, teaching at any level is real work. For every hour in the classroom, plan on spending many hours at home or at your desk in preparation. The transition will mean resetting your goals and looking forward to a great future in education. This will be no easy street and the stress of clinical dentistry, patients, staff, and practice will be entirely replaced with student,parent, and faculty expectations of excellence. A different kind of stress, and not without a certain level of anxiety. Be prepared for a solid level of commitment. You may be able to test your true interest in the field by volunteering. Don’t be surprised to find yourself hooked after your first student comes up to you and says thanks for inspiring me to become a doctor.
Get started by contacting your local school districts human resource office. Put together a well planned resume directed at your academic and leadership experience. This will be a great time to start networking and contact your friends who are teachers for valuable contacts and information. Don’t limit your pursuit of a position to your immediate community and look in the general region for opportunities at many high schools and middle schools. If you are really adventurous, consider elementary schools too. Get ready for a job interview! Buy a new suit or dress and practice your answers to the inevitable interview questions. You are applying for a job with tremendous responsibility, and your enthusiasm and commitment will be readily identifiable. Be confident and you will succeed. Look to our posting on alternate careers in dental education for more ideas. ALTERNATIVE CAREERS IN DENTAL EDUCATION
You have the skill to be a great teacher. Look at those motivating individuals that influenced you in high school, college, and dental school. Use their example as truly compassionate and caring leaders to build a foundation for your new career in education. They will be and will always remain your inspiration. We look forward to hearing of your educational success and keep us posted on your progress. This issue is way beyond LUCK at this point in your life. You have ALL THE TOOLS YOU NEED, JUST GO GET THE DESIRE. Ask your class to be seated and pay attention!
WE ARE DENTISTS HELPING OTHER SICK AND INJURED DENTISTS, WE CARE.